After disappearing from her family’s tent at a remote campsite in Western Australia, a missing four-year old girl was found alive 18 days later.  

Cleo Smith, who was dubbed ‘Australia’s Madeline McCann’, was last seen in her family’s tent at the vast campsite in Carnarvon, which lies on the northwest coast, at about 1.30am on October 16.

Her disappearance sparked a massive search in the area and police interviewed more than 110 people who were present at the campsite on the night Cleo arrived to meet her family.

Today police broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon, 75km from where Cleo went missing, and found the little girl in one of the rooms.

Col Blanch, Western Australia Police Commissioner, confirmed that Cleo is alive and well at local time and was reunited with her parents. 

“What’s my name?” he asked her. He replied.

“She said, “My name is Cleo.”  

Ellie Smith, Ellie’s mother, broke her silence Wednesday morning and shared a series love heart emojis via Instagram. 

A Carnarvon man was taken into custody and held at the house.

Cleo Smith has been found alive and well, 18 days after she vanished from her family's tent at the remote Blowholes campsite in Western Australia

Cleo Smith was found alive and well 18 days after she disappeared from her family’s tent at Blowholes campsite in Western Australia. 

Cleo's mum Ellie Smith broke her silence on Wednesday morning, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram after her daughter was found alive and well

Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith broke her silence on Wednesday morning, sharing a series of love heart emojis on Instagram after her daughter was found alive and well

‘This is the outcome we all hoped and prayed for,’ Deputy Commissioner Blanch said.

“It’s the result we’ve achieved thanks to some incredible police work.

“I want Cleo’s parents and the Western Australian community to thank me for being a volunteer.

“And of course, thank you to my colleagues from the Western Australia Police Force.”

Police stated that they would provide more information. Cleo will be saved later on Wednesday.

‘For now – welcome home Cleo,’ Deputy Commissioner Blanch concluded.

The news has sparked a worldwide outpouring of relief.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison tweeted, “What wonderful, relieving news,” from Glasgow.

‘Cleo Smith is safe and sound and has been located.

“Our prayers were answered.

“Thank you to the many officers who assisted in finding Cleo and supporting her family.

Cleo was found in her hometown of Carnarvon in Western Australia, 75km from where she went missing on October 16

Cleo was found 75km away from the place she disappeared on October 16th in Carnarvon, Western Australia.

Cleo has been reunited with her relieved parents

Cleo has been reunited to her relieved parents

2GB breakfast host Ben Fordham sat down live on the air to inform listeners that Cleo was found. 

Police interviewed more 110 people who were at Blowholes campsite on October 16th, when Cleo arrived with her family.

The little girl was last seen at her family’s tent on WA’s northwest coast at 1.30am. It was five hours later that her mother and stepfather realized she was missing.

Rod Wilde, Detective Superintendent, stated that the family had stayed close to their tent all night and not socialized with other campers.

Cleo's mum Ellie Smith (pictured during her daughter's disappearance) has been regular  public appeals for her daughter to be found

Cleo’s mum Ellie Smith (pictured during her daughter’s disappearance) has been regular  public appeals for her daughter to be found

Cleo Smith (pictured) has miraculously been found alive after vanishing from a remote campsite in Western Australia

Cleo Smith (pictured), who disappeared from a remote campsite, Western Australia, miraculously found her body alive

He said that he believed it was more than likely an opportunistic event on Perth radio 6PR Tuesday, hours before Cleo was discovered.

“We know they arrived on Friday night, but it was getting dark and people would have had limited opportunities to see Cleo at that point.”

Police repeatedly stressed that Cleo’s mother, Ellie Smith, was not a suspect, as was Jake Gliddon, her partner.

Ms Smith had been posting daily social media appeals, pleading for Cleo’s return. 

Police have collected more rubbish from roadside containers than 50 cubic metres this week, ranging from Minilya up to Geraldton.

WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch confirmed just before 7am AEDT Wednesday that little Cleo is alive and well

Col Blanch, WA Police Deputy Commissioner confirmed Wednesday just before 7AM AEDT that Cleo was alive and well

Cleo was missing for 18 days before police found her alive and well in a Carnavon home

Cleo went missing for 18 days, before police found her alive in a Carnavon house.

It was taken to Perth by forensic officers and trainees who searched through hundreds of bags looking for any items that could have helped them find Cleo.

Cleo was offered $1 million by the State Government for information leading to her location.

Police stated that Cleo’s disappearance received immediate attention, even though it took two hours to set up a roadblock at this location.

Cleo’s family house in Carnarvon was visited several times by detectives. They also sought CCTV footage from a variety of local businesses. Samples were also taken from a campfire at Blowholes.

Officers issued an extraordinary plea for dash cam and CCTV footage from within a 1000km radius of where the preschooler vanished and were seeking footage from motel check in, service stations, fast food outlets, truck stops, free camping areas, children’s clothing stores, pharmacies and camping stores.

The police narrowed in on a suspect by using the selective list.

Cleo is now back in the arms of her mum Ellie and stepfather Jake (pictured together)

Cleo is now in the arms her stepfather Jake and mum Ellie (pictured together).


At 6am, Ellie Smith wakes up to discover that Cleo is missing from her sleeping bag and that Cleo is not there.

6.23am:  Ellie calls 000 to report her eldest daughter missing as she continues to search the camp ground.

6.30 a.m.: The Carnarvon police station dispatches the first two officers. They will travel to Blowholes in order of priority, with sirens or lights.

6.41 AM: Blowholes receives a second police vehicle with two additional officers.

7.10am: The first officer arrives. The second one arrives in just minutes. 

7.26 am: Police arrive on the scene and create a protected forensic area that is taped to the public around the tent where Cleo was last spotted. 

7.33 AM: A drone operator is needed to search the skies.

7.44 AM: A third police vehicle is dispatched to Blowholes

8:15am: Cleo’s relatives and friends start to arrive to assist in the ground search. 

Another group of detectives searches Cleo’s house briefly to make sure she isn’t there. They then move on to Blowholes, stopping cars from entering and leaving the region.  

8.09am: A helicopter from a local company arrived at the scene and started searching  as police requested that an SES Team attend the Blowholes Search. 

8.24am: Volunteer marine searchers, police airwing, and the Air Force are called in for assistance.  

8.34am: Blowholes’ entrance is blocked off by roadblocks. Detectives collect the names, addresses and registration details of anyone who comes and goes. Police search cars. 

9.25am: Nine members of the SES team arrive at Blowholes in support of the search.

9.30 am: Ellie is distressed and detectives are there to help her. 

11am: Major Crime Division Homicide Detectives are called and start travelling from Perth to assist in the search.

1pm: Perth is home to more homicide detectives, search experts, and other investigators. 

3pm: Carnarvon officers and search experts arrive to offer their expertise.